Striking is a sacred right in France, and it is rearing its head once again this summer. The confederated unions of arts workers, known as les intermittents du spectacle because they do not always work year-round, are causing the cancellation of a number of performances at summer festivals around France. Le Monde has published a map of the affected areas. The source of the trouble is an agreement from last March that affects unemployment insurance for these workers. If the government's labor minister ratifies the agreement, the unions say they will undertake large-scale work stoppages of various kinds, and the trouble may be as extensive as the last major arts strikes in 2003. Already at the Printemps des comédiens, in Montpellier, no performance has taken place since that theater festival opened on June 3, and the dance festival in Uzès has already been canceled in its entirety. Demonstrations, with actors and directors joining the intermittents in solidarity, have been held in Paris, Montpellier, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rennes, and Strasbourg. As you can imagine with a group of extremely creative people like these workers, the demonstrations are, well, spectacles in their own right.
Des milliers d'intermittents manifestent à Paris by lemondefr
With the big festivals in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence set to open at the start of July, this could get ugly and fast. Olivier Py, the director of the Festival d'Avignon, has said publicly that if the implementation of the agreement in question is not delayed, it will almost certainly mean the cancellation of his festival. The government, for its part, says that it will proceed with the plan to enforce the agreement starting on July 1. The showdown is set.